“Jawaharlal Nehru University will be the same as always, this campus is not for frisking students…it will remain an open campus like before and there will definitely be no closed circuit cameras in the classrooms,” said JNU Vice-Chancellor S.K. Sopory on Thursday, a day after Akash, an undergraduate student of the University’s School of Languages, allegedly hacked his classmate Roshani with an axe, all in the name of love.
“It was not a spontaneous act; it was planned very carefully by the boy, nobody could have suspected anything, he even attended the first lecture and the weapons he carried were in a big bag which anyone would assume to be filled with books. Had she even indicated, ever so slightly, that she felt threatened, we would have immediately taken some sort of action,” Prof. Sopory said.
The Vice-Chancellor also related another incident where a girl had complained that she felt that she was being stared at all the time by a boy. “We had her protected, and the boy backed off,” he said, adding that in this instance if the boy had known that the girl had protection, then he may not have done what he did. “It was just a matter of few minutes when the whole incident was over, they were in the hospital within 30 minutes or so…the students donated around six bottles of blood that the girl needed. I am also deeply saddened and sorry that the boy died.”
Prof. Sopory was in Lucknow speaking at a seminar when he got the news and rushed back by the first available flight. “In a university, all blame must rest on the Vice-Chancellor, so I take complete responsibility for this incident,” he said.
Looking visibly shaken, Prof. Sopory added: “I hope nothing like this happens anywhere...this is something you cannot recover from…you start losing confidence in yourself.”
He said a psychiatrist visits the university campus thrice a week to take care of the counselling needs of the students but now even this does not seem to be enough. “The teachers will have to become more involved with the students, and especially in the hostels keep their eyes and ears open.”
“I had a meeting with the Dean of Languages and one solution seems to be that as soon as new undergraduate students enter the campus, we must have special meetings with them along with GSCASH, our gender sensitisation committee,” he noted.
Prof. Sopory was, however, very clear that no student on the campus was feeling insecure after the incident. “There is no fear factor on the campus: it is secure, and we have our university security and closed circuit cameras in libraries, administration blocks and other places where people have to work late at night.”
The Vice-Chancellor also ruled out the possibility of adding more restrictions in the hostels or keeping away outsiders who frequent the university’s many cafes and 24-hour dhabas. “If a guest of a student or faculty is eating here, we cannot tell them to leave; however, we have asked the 24-hour dhabas not to serve food to complete outsiders after 11 p.m. and our security vans are there to handle people who bring in liquor,” he said, adding that students found consuming or keeping liquor in hostel rooms are fined heavily.
“JNU is not a bad place; it is still, academically, one of the best places to be in …but sometimes despite precautions and best intentions things can go wrong.”